Recently I started going through my social media and social networking accounts and cleaning out friends, fans, followers, and connections. Why? Because it was getting harder and harder for me to filter out all of the noise from the auto posting robots that have made their way on to my friend feeds. You know the ones, all they do is barrage their followers with offers to make twenty million dollars in thirty seconds, or gather two hundred million twitter followers just by retweeting a link.

I mentioned this plan to a friend of mine who immediately replied, “But your numbers will go down! You won’t have as many followers, and it’s all about the numbers!”

Hmmm, really? All about the numbers huh? So people actually think that just because you have 65,000 followers, and you are following 64,000 people on Twitter that this means something? First off, how do you manage 64,000 relationships or possibly have time to read all of those postings? Especially if the people you follow post more than once a day? I am pretty sure the math makes that impossible. Or at least improbably if you have a job and can’t stare at your friend feeds all day.

So that discussion brought me back to something I have always believed in my business and personal life, and I have decided to apply it to my “virtual” life as well. That belief is that real relationships trump thread bare connections. I want to have real conversations with my real connections. Now a “real conversation” may just be a quick comment on their status on Facebook, or a comment on a tweet and nothing else. But at least it is a real connection instead of pushing automated random postings from keyword searches, and never following up on a direct message or comment sent back to me, or “fire and forget” as it is being called these days.

So here is what I am doing now with three of my social networks, and I recommend the same strategy to my clients. Some go for it, some don’t. But the strategy you use should fit your personality and your company’s style of doing business.  These methods just happen to work for mine:

I have several twitter accounts. One is personal that I only share with very close friends and family, and I protect these tweets so that anyone that wants to follow me has to get permission. This allows me to screen my followers for this channel.  Mainly because this one can get pretty rough if I am venting about something and I only want people that “get me” or understand my brand of sarcasm to see these posts. This account follows my friends and family, as well as any “fun” feeds like posts from Wil Wheaton, Kevin Smith, Adam Lambert, etc.(Don’t judge me!)

For my business twitter accounts (ie ProducedByaBear ), I leave those open for any and all to follow. Here I post thoughts, links to articles I find, new blog notices (this one will go out thirty minutes after I hit the publish button), anything that is relevant to my business or that I think might be of interest to my clients or future clients. I also follow thought leaders in my niche with this account.

Again, like Twitter I keep things pretty segmented.  I have my personal profile which I use to keep in touch with close friends and family.  I also have some business connections in my friend list, but they are only ones that I have built strong friendships with, and even some of those are locked down on lists so that they can only see certain information from my end.

I also have business fan pages set up.( Exit Facebook Page )  On those pages I usually re-post some of the same information that goes out in my business twitter feed.  I have tabs set up that deliver specialized information just for those fan pages.  Things like my portfolio, special sale pages, games I have created, videos, etc.  Again, it is anything that I think might be of interest to my current or future clients, or can help build my business.

LINKEDIN: ( Kelly Ross Kerr on LinkedIN )
For me, LinkedIN is all about business and I keep it that way.  I am an “open networker”, which means that I am pretty open to any and all connection requests.  I do however review each and every request that comes in and make sure that there is some sort of fit.  With LinkedIN it really is all about your numbers.  The more connections you have, the more opportunities there are for you to make a connection that could turn into a project or business deal.  But again, I review all of my connections, and have even started going back through them and doing a second round cleaning.  Most everyone has made it through the cut, but if there is something glaring that makes me think that I would not want to do business with them, I quietly remove them from my list.

How you handle your social media and social networking accounts ultimately is up to you and or your business.  You should make your strategy for managing your followers fit your style.  If you like to have a million people hanging on your every word and have no interest in what they have to say, then by all means, collect as many followers as you can.  But if you want to build real relationships and get to know the people that you are connecting with, I would highly suggest that you sacrifice quantity for quality and thin the herd.

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